Lunatic's Tech Predictions for 2008
Every year, tech industry pundits come out with lists of predictions for the following year. Reviewing their previous years' predictions generally results in scores of 40%-60% accuracy--and these are the people whose very jobs are supposed to be to follow, understand, and report on the tech industry! Well, as an avid follower of the tech industry myself, I've felt I could do at least as good a job at coming up with a set of predictions, so this year I finally did.
I tried to trim my predictions down to ten or fifteen "major" predictions, and have the rest be "bonus" ones. Even after grouping some of them together I still didn't quite make it, so here's my "Sweet Sixteen" of technology predictions for 2008, with bonus predictions to follow:
- Apple sub-notebook with integrated 3G, wireless USB, no HD or optical drive; Integrated 3G wireless option for all Apple portables by year's end
Apple's new sub-notebook will be their first computer (i.e. not media player or phone) to make available a variety of technologies such as solid-state storage, integrated 3G wireless connectivity, and wireless USB, though not all of those will necessarily be included with the initial launch. It will lack an integrated optical drive. Instead, an external one will be available, with its own integrated battery pack, connecting via either wired or wireless USB.
Apple will release integrated 3G wireless connectivity via UMTS/HSDPA/HSPA as an option across all of its portable computers by the end of 2008. It'll be released and integrated in a manner similar to the way they proceeded with 802.11 WiFi. (This logically builds out from initial technology development for the iPhone, similar to their initial work with 802.11 for the iBook.)
- Only one major rev. of iPhone: 3G, GPS, better camera & RAM; No "iPhone nano"
Apple will release only one major hardware revision of the iPhone in 2008, giving it 3G data access, GPS, a better camera, and more storage. Subsequent minor hardware revisions will add little beyond increased storage. The iPhone's form factor won't change, and a smaller version of the iPhone (i.e. a so-called "iPhone nano") will not be released by Apple in 2008.
- No Apple DVR/PVR; No TiVo or other DVR/PVR company purchase, either
Apple will not release DVR/PVR hardware or software in 2008, nor will they buy TiVo or any other DVR/PVR company.
- Mac OS X will break 10% U.S. market share
The market share of Mac OS X will break 10% in the U.S., by at least one means of calculation. Operating system market share will continue to not be a major driving factor in Apple's plans.
- Apple's stock above $200 more than below it (exclusive of splits)
As long as it doesn't split, Apple's stock will spend more time above $200 per share in 2008 than below it.
- Vista remains stagnant; Rush on XP before its availability discontinued
Microsoft's Windows Vista adoption rate will not increase significantly in 2008. There will be large numbers of sales of Windows XP and stockpiling of copies of it immediately prior to its termination of licensing and retail sales at the end of June. Once supplies of XP dry up within weeks or a couple months of June, there will be a decrease in the number of new Windows PCs sold, as the lifetimes of older XP machines will be increasingly stretched, and the adoption of non-Windows OSes will accelerate.
- No success for MS Windows Home Server, Surface, Silverlight
Microsoft's Windows Home Server will not see any significant adoption rate, and will be largely forgotten by the end of 2008.
Microsoft's Surface (remember that?) will finally have some hardware released in 2008, after being delayed from November 2007, but it'll be mostly forgotten by the end of 2008, without leaving any significant impact.
Microsoft's Silverlight will remain in the shadows of Adobe's Flash and AJAX and not gain any significant momentum in 2008. No major website or new web trend will appear in 2008 that requires Silverlight in the way that YouTube and Internet video made use of Adobe's Flash plug-in ubiquitous from 2006 through 2007.
- Majority of films/TV/music will release simultaneously worldwide by year's end
By the end of 2008 the vast majority of major films, TV shows, and music releases will become available simultaneously, or within a matter of days, in most regions around the globe to combat piracy and ensure maximum return on investment. The major studios and labels will have realized A) How much delays in release contribute to piracy, and B) That the most significant portion of their sales are going to be in the first day/weekend/week, with subsequent sales so sharply reduced by piracy that they have to make the majority of their return all at once, as soon as possible after release. This won't stop the major studios and labels from continuing to try to litigate and legislate solutions to the problem of piracy, which will still largely only result in inconvenience to their legitimate customers and no appreciable drop in piracy rates.
- Simultaneous cinema and disc/online streaming release experiments will begin
As part of the above, studios will begin experimenting with simultaneous, or near simultaneous, releases of some properties on multiple formats, such as a movie premiere at cinemas in one region at the same time or immediately followed by the availability of that movie in other regions on physical media (DVD or hi-def disc) and/or streaming online.
- Google's Android mobile phone platform won't go beyond "experimental"
Most of the major cell phone manufacturers will come out with a cell phone based on Google's Android platform, but they'll all be treating it as an experiment. No manufacturer will fully embrace it. Sales of Android-based phones per manufacturer won't be significantly higher than their other models.
- Google only bids minimum in 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction; doesn't win
Google won't win the upcoming 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction, after they only bid the minimum amount. The whole point of their bid is to get everyone to commit to keeping a portion of the spectrum open. If/when they achieve that, they don't need to actually own any portion of it.
- Kindle gets only a minor H/W revision, for sales outside U.S.; Still no WiFi
Amazon will release a minor revision of the Kindle hardware in 2008, increasing its storage, streamlining its form factor, and providing support for an alternate wireless network from EV-DO (such as UMTS/HSDPA), so that it can be sold in territories outside of the U.S. It won't see availability on more than one continent outside of North America, though. And it still won't get built-in WiFi.
- PS3 sales will overtake Xbox; Most gamers purchase both PS3 and Wii systems
Sony's PlayStation 3 will overtake Microsoft's Xbox 360 in sales as games finally come out that realize the untapped potential of the PS3 hardware, and the PS3's price drops thanks to reductions in component prices and aggressive marketing. The current generation console "war" will become a mainly two horse race between Nintendo's Wii and the PS3, but outside of news headlines it won't really matter because an increasingly large percentage of gamers will own both consoles.
- At least one solid-state storage laptop from each manufacturer by year's end
All major manufacturers of laptop/notebook computers will have at least one model available by the end of 2008 that uses solid-state storage (e.g. Flash RAM) instead of a hard disk as its primary storage medium.
- Municipal WiFi and WiMAX still not successes
Municipal WiFi will still be a non-starter in 2008, as will WiMAX.
- FaceBook goes public
FaceBook will go public in 2008, which will lead to a few other web-based companies going public, but not nearly so many as during the dot-com boom. There also won't be anywhere near the same kind of Wall Street feeding frenzy as there was then.
So there they are. I may have been a little heavy on Apple, but as CES 2008 showed us (and these predictions were written before CES), the rest of the tech industry just doesn't seem to be able to do much that's all that exciting in the consumer space.
- Over 13 million iPhones will be sold by the end of 2008
Apple will sell over 13 million iPhones by the end of 2008, beating their estimates of 10 million.
- "iPhone killers" won't
The tons of phones labeled as "iPhone killers" by the press will all fail to live up the monikers they're branded with, in the same way that all media players labeled "iPod killers" have failed to make a dent in sales of iPods.
- iPod stays top dog in PMPs; DRM-free music ends "anti-monopoly" lawsuits
The iPod will continue to be the dominant media player in 2008, in spite of the continuing succession of devices from competitors, and the major shift of online music sales towards DRM-free content. The availability of DRM-free content will mean that we'll finally see the end of reporting on poorly-founded "anti-monopoly" lawsuits against Apple's iPod and iTunes.
- AppleTV won't succeed or fail in 2008; No set top box will yet dominate
Apple's AppleTV still won't be a major success, but its production will continue with minor hardware updates such as increased storage and CPU/GPU revisions. No single dedicated media extender device like AppleTV will achieve market share dominance in 2008, though.
- Apple will get into movie rental downloads with a Netflix-like model
Apple will roll out movie rental downloads with a model similar to Netflix: A monthly fee will allow you to "check out" X number of movies which you'll be able to watch as many times as you want and keep as long as you're paying the monthly fee, but in order to download and watch something new you'll have to "return" one of your current downloads. Downloaded rentals will be able to be converted to purchases for a discount from the existing $10-$15 purchase cost.
- No Apple hi-def video disc H/W for at least the first half of the year
Apple will continue to wait on offering high-definition video disc hardware (Blu-ray/HD DVD) as standard options for at least the first half of the year, hoping that hi-def downloads will be a viable alternative. (This is also why they won't be getting into DVR/PVR hardware/software; they'd rather have people pay for the shows through iTunes than record them on their own. A balancing consideration is that when recording shows you're paying with your time dealing with commercials...)
- One+ additional significant pro-MS/anti-Apple pundit/blogger will switch camps
At least one more significant Microsoft/Windows supporting and/or Apple bashing pundit/blogger will switch over to Macs in 2008 (after Robert Scoble a while ago, and John C. Dvork began recommending people buy Macs in 2007). Maybe not someone with as high a profile as Rob Enderle or Paul Thurott, but maybe someone like Troy Wolverton from the SJ Mercury, or one of the more vocally critical of Apple at Cnet.
- The Beatles music catalog will finally become available as digital downloads
It's got to happen eventually. Most pundits have stopped predicting when. This one's getting to be like "The Year of the LAN" in the mid/late '80's.
- No U.S. carrier will start selling a cell phone based on the OpenMoko platform
"Why did Google have to go and ruin our party?" - OpenMoko Team
- Verizon "opening" its network changes nothing
In 2007 Verizon announced that it was "opening" its network to outside mobile handsets by the end of 2008. Sounds good in theory. The reality is that phones on Verizon's CDMA network don't use SIM cards. So you can't use simply take an unlocked phone and pop in a (non-existent) "Verizon SIM" and get it to work, like you can with GSM phones in Europe and other parts of the world (including on AT&T and T-Mobile's networks in the U.S.). So why would companies go to the extra effort of building devices that'll work on Verizon's network without a deal with Verizon to sell them? Answer: They won't.
- Electronic paper/E Ink still not a major success, outside of Kindle
Outside of Amazon's Kindle, electronic paper/E Ink will still not be a major success in 2008.
1. I was actually going to predict over 15 million in sales, but thinking about released figures so far I wimped out and went for a more conservative, yet still above estimate figure
2. This is practically a "gimmie." The difference in my take vs. the rumors, though, is that Apple will use a Netflix-like model rather than 24-hour rentals
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Content originally created: 07 Jan 2008. Last updated: 15 Jan 2008.